Archive for August, 2012

Berlin – Bank Holiday Weekend, August 2012

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Flight a bit late. Arrived at hotel to find they didn’t have the double bed we ordered – two single beds instead. Tantrum at reception. Colin went out. I went to bed. Next morning reception knew about the issue and offered to move the beds together; we had already done that. Message at breakfast room to go to reception; we’d just been. At least our complaint had been acknowledged. Delivered goodies to the Canadians, Andi, Paul and Klaus-Dieter. Dinner at San Marco.


Colin went to Bull. Me to bed. Out that night to Mutschmanns (still don’t like it) and Scheune. Nick looked fed up; well he has just split up with Erik, for reasons no-one understands at the moment.  Sunday was move day. Phil took us from Ivbergs to the Hampton by Hilton but our room wasn’t ready (we were early). Walk around Savignyplatz and lunch.

Plan was to go for the Sunday party at Scheune but we were too tired and instead had a rest before a nice evening a meal with Paul, Klaus and Emma. Monday, Phil took us to the airport and an uneventful flight back.

London (17th August)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Friday night: after using my work’s charity day clearing up some of the gardens at Tower Hamlets Cemetery, I dashed to the office and showered and changed before meeting Colin at Pizza Express in Golden Square. After a decent meal we wandered up Carnaby Street  to the Palladium to see the Wizard of OZ. Even though our tickets were half price the theatre was still not full. It is also annoying that children are allowed in to watch these sort of shows! The most interesting people in the audience, however, were the three grannies who turned up later and proceeded to talk very loudly (despite being told off by other members of the audience). They were clearly drunk and one left her seat during the first half, never to return, and a second disappeared during the interval.


An early(-ish) start on Saturday morning as we met Heike (Klaus-Dieter’s sister-in-law) and her friend, Brigitte to show them round some of London. Walked along the river to the Houses of Parliament, up Whitehall, past Downing St and the horses to Trafalgar Square where we caught one of the old-fashioned Routemasters to St Pauls. We were the only passengers on the top deck and the conductor didn’t come and check our tickets so we got a free ride. Walked round the cathedral (I’d forgotten how imposing it actually looks) and cross the Millenium Bridge and from just outside the Globe theatre we caught a boat (having paid with Oyster) along the river to Greenwich North where we disembarked and wandered into the O2 for lunch in the Slug and Lettuce which the German ladies paid for. Then our first flight with Emirates  – on the cable car over the Thames. Using Oyster again made it really easy as they have Underground-tpe entrance gates – touch in and enter. Not much of a queue and they only put 6 passengers in each pod, even though they could probably take 8 people. Very comfortable ride with great views over East London. After that we deserved an ice-cream but I am not sure I was happy paying £2.50 for a “99” with flake. Took the DLR back to Tower Hill where we said goodbye to our guests who took a bus to Regent Street to go shopping. We returned home for a well-deserved rest. Sunday was a typical London Sunday – shopping, cleaning, the Hoist and a meal out (this time our first trip to Buffalo  – not bad food although I had already drunk too much by then. The fajitas were a bit too hot for my taste.



Glasgow (28th July)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Changed trains in Glasgow to get the local service to Bellshill where Colin’s father picked us up and we went for a fish supper before going to the hotel (Hilton) for a quick freshen up before heading out again to Harry’s bowling club, the venue for Andrew’s 50th birthday party.

 TD at Andrew’s 50th

Standard Scottish good time had by all. The next morning, after breakfast we went for a walk in Strathclyde country park followed by lunch at the Toby carvery. Flight back was cancelled and our replacement flight to LHR was delayed so we ended up having to get a black cab from LHR to Croydon, courtesy of BA.

Manchester (27th August)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Flight up to Manchester and checked into the Doubletree by Hilton just round the corner from the montly club “Alert”. Good night had. Pity it will be our last before it closes.. Next day train (first class) to Glasgow…..


Newcastle (21st July)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

First visit to Newcastle. Flew up and stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton at the airport (see review). Good metro system takes about 20 minutes to get to the city centre where we found a small crowd gathered for Northern Pride. Unlike most pride processesions this one started on time and although it seemed unusually small at the beginning it soon gathered momentum and numbers.There were no floats but this did mean that the parade could not only go along main roads but also through the pedestrianised areas, much to the amusement of Saturday shops. Pleasingly everyone seemed happy and I neither saw nor heard any homophobic acts which you might expect. Due to the bad weather that the UK had been suffering the venue for the after-parade party had to move to a different park. It was just like the old Brighton as the parade entered the park for a free festival. On stage, the headline act was Sonya supported by the likes of Scooch (Eurovision: Flying the Flag). However, we  found the best entertainment was provided by Maggie May, an excellent tribute act to Dame Shirley Bassey.



Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

A short flight to Brussels followed by a train journey of similar duration lands you in Antwerp. This was to be a two-hotel weekend, the first night spent in the Express by Holiday Inn where the service is good and the rooms spacious and clean. It’s also near The Boots. As it was Antwerp Pride weekend they had changed their normal agenda and moved their main fetsih night to outside town, so the club itself was quiet (and it was a sports night, not my favourite, although, for future reference you can actually wear what you like).


After breakfast we packed, checked out and walked to our next hotel in the centre of town: The Hilton is on Groenplats, one of the main (and prettiest) Antwerp squares. Even though we were early our room was ready and we had already been upgraded to the Executive floor where we found our massive room. Shortly after arrival a knock at the door announced the arrival of a member of staff to check we had settled in ok.

TD at Hilton, Antwerp


After a short rest we ventured out to experience Antwerp Pride. The parade goes along the waterfront and although it was short compare to the likes of Berlin and London (there were sixteen floats) it was good fun, and much more relaxed than it more established counterparts. For example, in Berlin the parade was headed up by lots (and I mean lots) of police in armoured vans. In Antwerp there were two motorcycle outriders and a cop on a bicycle!


Back at the hotel we made use of the free drinks in the executive lounge before heading out for a mexican meal and then back to the hotel for an early night.


On the flight back the next day the purser, armed with his Ipad came to us both and checked we were ok and whether we needed anything else. He got a “well done” on


Berlin Beer Festival (4th August)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

First visit to the Berlin Beer Festival (2,2 Kilometres, about 300 breweries from 86 countries and 2000 types of beer ADD LINK. Located on Karl-Marx-Allee also known as Stalin-Allee on account of the large number of (impressive) soviet-style buildings. Beers were not expensive and if you didn’t take your glass back you could keep but you lost your deposit.

 TD At Paydos

Weather was hot and sunny making for a relaxing day out. Good atmosphere in the afternoon although I can imagine there might have been a few more rowdy moments and headaches later in the evening.

TD at the Berlin beer festival

Ended up at one my favourite restaurants on Wittenbergplatz: Paydos.


Amsterdam (13th July)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

It was time to return to Amsterdam. We used to go regularly and really enjoyed but then it seemed to lose its way, bars weren’t moving with the times, the hotels were getting more and more expensive and the number of hen/stag parties increased on each visit. Nothing has changed really, except we found a really nice hotel (Doubletree by Hilton) which is a newly built hotel near the station. Some bars have been refurbished but they still lack the atmosphere (and number of people) of before. Needless to say it also rained. Might revisit in another five years.


London Pride (7th July)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

About a week before London Pride the old money problems reared their head again and the parade was no longer allowed to have lorries and the Soho parties were cancelled. Not much to look forward to then? Au contraire, the rain held off (except for one five-minute long downpour) and the march was great fun. A bit more music would have been welcomed but it was just like the old days except it didn’t end up in a festival in a park. Pics here

Marilyn’s Party (30th June)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Marilyn’s birthday is actually earlier in the year but, following Her Majesty’s lead, decided to hold her 50th celebrations in what would hopefully be the summer, so on a wind-swept Saturday afternoon we made our way to a park in north London where, despite the wind’s best efforts we enjoyed a picnic.